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E-words. E-terms. E-lexemes.

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Friday, 2 May 2014, 11:22

Inspired by The Secret life of words. How English became English. Henry Hitchings (2008)

‘Communications is essential to our lives, but how often do we stop to think about where the words we use have come from?’
Hitchings (2008)

Whilst ‘where words came from’ is the premise for ‘The Secret Life of Words’ it is much more: it is a history of the people who spoke English. It is a refreshing take on a chronology of events. We learn history through words for warrior, through the Anglo-Saxon, French and Latin word for the same thing ... and through the words the English language has so easily accommodated from across the globe. It is a fascinating journey, one made pertinent to someone studying on the cascading wave-edge of the digital ocean that is ‘e-learning’ with the frequent coining of new terms.

For a description of the way the English language functions (or mis-functions) I love this:

English is ‘Deficient in regularity.’

From James Harris (c1720) in Hitchings (2008:1)

It is exactly the kind of thing a teacher might write in red pen at the bottom of a school-boy’s essay.

This is another way of putting it. English, ‘this hybrid tongue’, as Hitchings calls it. Hitchings (2008:2)

A tongue that re-invents itself, twists and transmogrifies at every turn.

A couple of decades ago I recall there being suggestions that the English language would splinter into so many dialects, creoles and forms that a speaker of one would not understand the user of another. The opposite appears to be the case, that ‘core English’ has been stabilised by its myriad of versions. Users can choose to understand each other or not, to tolerate even celebrate their differences or to use difference to create a barrier: think of the class divide, the posh voice versus the plebeian, one regional accent set against another, or an accent from one former British Dominion compared to another.

‘Words bind us together, and can drive us apart.’ Hitchings (2008:3)

How is the Internet changing the English Language?

What impact has Instant Messaging, blogging and asynchronous communication had? Can we be confident that others take from our words the meanings we intend? As we are so inclined to use sarcasm, irony, flippancy and wit when we speak, how does this transcribe when turned into words? How can you know a person’s meaning or intentions without seeing their face or interpreting their body language? Must we be bland to compensate for this?

I love mistakes, such as this one from Hitchings:

Crayfish ... ‘its fishy quality is the result of a creative mishearing.’ Hitchings (2008:4)

Age ten or eleven I started to keep a book of my ‘creative mishearings’ which included words such as ‘ragabond,’ instead of ‘vagabond.’ I love the idea of the ‘creative mishearing,’ isn’t this the same as ‘butterfly’, shouldn’t it be ‘flutterby’? And recalling a BBC Radio 4 Broadcast on Creativity with Grayson Perry, ‘creativity is mistakes.’

Mistakes and misunderstandings put barbs on the wire strings of words we hook from point to point, between arguments and chapters. We are fortunate that the English language is so flawed; it affords scratches and debate, conflict and the taking of sides.

An American travelled 19,000 miles back and forth across the US with a buddy correcting spellings, grammar and punctuation on billboards, notices and road signs. His engaging story split the reviewers into diametrically opposed camps of ‘love him’ or ‘hate him.’ (Courtesy of the Today Programme, the day before yesterday c20th August 2010)

‘Our language creates communities and solidarities, as well as division and disagreements.’ Hitchings (2008:4)

My test for the longevity and acceptability of a new word coined to cover a term in e-learning will be twofold:

Can, what is invariably a noun, be turned with ease into a verb or adjective?

Might we have an Anglo-Saxon, French and Latin word for the same thing. We like to have many words for the same thing ... variations on a theme.

And a final thought

Do technical words lend themselves to such reverse engineering? Or, like a number, are they immutable?

If they are made of stone I will find myself a mason's chisel.

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Design Museum

Patterns, designs and activities: unifying descriptions of learning structures’

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Sunday, 4 May 2014, 08:49

McAndrew, Goodyear, Dalziel

  • Learning patterns
  • Learning design
  • Learning activities

'The use of online and electronic systems to support learning - e-learning - is emerging as a field with new opportunities and problems.'

In advertising, marketing and corporate communications, the standard 'Creative Brief' used to inform and direct the creative team poses two initial questions, the answers to which focus the creative effort:

What is the problem?

What is the opportunity?

It is therefore refreshing and reassuring to find the same terms being used in relaton to the 'emerging field' of e-learning. i.e. it is a tool, a way of doing things that may be used to address a clearly defined problem ... and in addressing this issues opportunities are created. The first enables the second, the second motivates ambition beyond the original problem.

Patterns, designs and activities are transferable, and therefore reproducible as digital objects (learning objects, etcsmile

  • Personalisation
  • Large scale digital repositories
  • Flexible reuse
  • Knowledge economy

Learning Object 'any entity, digital or non-digital, that can be sed, re-used, or referenced during technology-supported learning.'

  • learning
  • or
  • training

(Unsure how to differentate the two. Learning at a uni, training at a poly? Learning in school , FE, HE & Uni ... training at work?)

'In pratice, works in implementing Learning Objects in education (as distinct from training) tends to specialise the definition to refer to items that have education meaning, for example units that can result in a few hours of student activity.'

i.e. Learning objects ...

'Any digital or non-digital, with education meaning, that an be used, re-used, or referened during technology-supported learning.'

Patterns

The concept of patterns applied to learning seeks to identify what can be provided as useful background, guidance and illustration in describing a set of inter-related desriptions for ways to assist learning online. Patterns are not viewed as something that can be reused diretly but rather as something that can provide the informed teacher with 'rules of thumb' as they build up their range of tasks, tools, or materials that draw on a collected body of experience.

IMS Learning Design

a formal language?

Learning Activity Management System (LAMS) - a software system that encourages the design of sequences of collaborative activites that use individual activity tools configured using a visual 'drag and drop' interface.

Learning Patterns

Ref Christopher Alexander on architecture and town-planning - to democratise architecture and town-planning by offering a set of coneptual resources that ordinary people could use in shaping or reshaping their environment.

REFERENCE

Alexander, C. (1979). The Timeless Way of Building. New York. OUP.

'His work provides a principled, structured but flexible resource for vernacular design that balances rigour and prescriptiveness by offering useful design guidance without constraining creativity.'

CF Long Compton Plan 1999 // Lewes Town Plan 2011

www2.tisip.no/E-LEN/

Fundamental Principles

  • picture
  • context
  • headline
  • body
  • solution
  • diagrammatic representation
  • linking paragraph

'A pattern is a solution to a recurrent problem in a context.'

From Town Planning

A pattern 'describes a problem which occurs over and over again in our environment, and then describes the core of the solution to that problem, in such a way that you can use this solution a million times over, without ever doing it the same way twice.'

N.B. CONTEXT

  • to help constraint and communicate the nature of both problem and solution.
  • to help the reader understand enough about a problem and solution that they can adapt the problem description and solution to meet their own needs.
  • its name crystallising a valued element of the design experience.

'The use of patterns, can be seen as a way of bridging between theory, empirical evidence and experience (on the one hand) and the practical problem of design.'

(When I start writing out the entire report I know it's of value!)

'In communities that have adopted the pattern approach, design patterns are usually drafted, shared, critiqued and refined through an extended process of collaboration.'

'Educational design needs to be seen as a process in which a designer makes a number of more or less tentative design commitments, reflecting on the emerging design/artefact and retracting, weakening or strengthening commitment from time to time.'

'Understanding the dynamic interplay between patterns in the mind and patterns in the world is key to seeing how and why design patterns work as aid to design. It is their 'fit' with the mind and the world that gives them power.'

'The focus for our work is in task design, as this has the strongest analogy with the built environment where patterns are used to build concrete objects that activity then flows around in a way that cannot be entirely predicted.'

IMS Learning Design Specification

Educational Modelling Language (EML)

  • to enable flexible representation of the elements within online courses.
  • materials and the order in which activities takes place.
  • the roles that people undertake
  • services needed for presentation to learners.

'How to package up the overall information into a structure that is modelled on a play, with acts, roles (actors) and resources.'

Of particular interest to someone who has written three screenplays, sold none, though had two short films produced ... with one sold to Channel 4! Someone who is also a graduate of EAVE, taking a cross-platform interactive TV drama through the script development process. But of greater relevance a producer of some 135 training and information films, many drama reconstructions using professional actors, directors and writers.

Content Packaging

- digital objects are gathered together with a manifest describing their location, but enhances the approach to give an ordered presentation of the different entities within the unit of learning.

Simple Sequencing

Level A: roles, acts and the environment
Level B: adds properties and conditions
Level C: adds notification and messaging

www.unfold-project.net/ (UNFOLD PROJECT)

ref: Learning Activity Management System (LAMS)

e.g. 'What is greatness?'

A' Level history project.

www.valkenburggroup.org

N.B. One of the striking features of LAMS is the speed which new sequences can be created from an initial structure.

N.B. 'Changes to the sequence structure are achieved via a simple drag and drop interface in which existing activities can be dragged into new locations, and new activities dragged into the sequence at an appropriate point.'

LAMS offers a complete system in three parts where first a design is produced in the author environment, using a visual sequence editor, then designs are instantiated with a particular class group (and subsequently tracked) through the monitor environment, and then designs are accessed by students from the learner environment. The modularity of the system allows each environment to be considered in its own right (not just as a unified whole), and particular focus has been placed on the author environment as a way to engage teachers in designing activities for their courses.'

TOWARDS ...

An overall pattern language for learning.

CONCLUSION

'In the ideal of patterns, flexibility and advice is valued over complete description and instantly usable output.'

REFERENCE

McAndrew, P., Goodyear, P. and Dalziel, J. (2006) ‘Patterns, designs and activities: unifying descriptions of learning structures’, International Journal of Learning Technology, vol.2, no.2/3, pp.216-242; also available online at http://www.inderscience.com/search/index.php?action=record&rec_id=10632&prevQuery=&ps=10&m=or (Accessed 17 June 2010). (Revisited 26 Jan 2013)

Biographical notes: Patrick McAndrew is a senior lecturer in the Institute of Educational Technology at The Open University where he teaches and researches in the use of technology in support of learning. His work examines ways to design for active engagement by learners working together. This has involved studies in task based approaches to learning and their representation as learning designs within knowledge sharing environments. In 2001 he cofounded the UserLab research team which works within the Computers and Learning research group to undertake projects in e-learning.

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